The acronym SEM stands for search engine marketing, but it actually refers to much more than how you are marketing your website. Often these three little letters refer to paid search marketing. The reality is that both paid search marketing and search engine marketing are really connected to search engine optimization (SEO).
There are two main differences between SEM and SEO. Although they both do the same function in bringing more users to your site, the SEO side of this process is done by free means. Keyword optimization, link building, social media, and blog networking are all free ways to draw attention to your site. SEM is the other side of Internet marketing, where you pay for services that bring more traffic to your site.
Plain SEO marketing is considered organic or natural. Sites that use SEO rank highly because they are naturally taking a place based on how many visitors go to the site and view and share the content. The search engines place sites highly because they believe that more people are looking for this information when they use relevant keywords.
SEM, on the other hand, is essentially paid advertising. This may or may not affect the overall search engine ranking, but what it will do is put your website’s information in strategic places where people who might be interested in your site will be looking for the information. These listings are often called Pay-Per-Click services because you, as the advertiser, only have to pay for your add when someone clicks on the link to go your site.
Not everyone is a fan of the SEM approach to marketing online. Some detractors believe that big companies that can afford to pay bigger prices will get higher ranking based solely on money and not on the actual content. But the reality is that bigger companies have less of a need for SEM because they are already well known name brands. If you are looking for Pepsi’s website you are more likely to type Pepsi than “types of cola” into a search engine.
The SEM approach to marketing online also gives web page managers clear tracking of how well your marketing scheme is working. You will clearly see how many people are clicking on your ads and how much traffics this is bringing to your site.
So, the question remains, do you need paid SEM to help promote your site or will the “free” SEO be enough to get you the traffic that you need? The reality is that each business, website, and situation is different. What might work for you might not work for the business next door. SEM services may be ideal for you in the short term to help improve your rankings, or perhaps you have a unique enough service or product that SEO alone will do the job. Working with a professional service, like what you would find working with a company like Bulletproof Digital, can help you to determine what would work best for your business.